One of the large issues of contention among Christians today is whether the Church will be removed (raptured) from the earth before the Tribulation, or after the Tribulation. (Pre-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation) The line of demarcation between these opinions seems to be whether one views the Word of God literally, or figuratively.
For your information, I read and understand the Bible from a literal point of view. I also believe in a Pre-Tribulation “snatching up” (Greek harpazo – Strong’s G726) of the Church. My personal criticism of the figurative point of view is that it is applied inconsistently. Some of those who interpret the Bible figuratively believe that the Lord Jesus will figuratively return, yet they believe in the literal first appearance of Jesus two-thousand years ago. They say His first appearance was literal, but the second will be figurative.
Over the years I have found several “pictures” of future events in the Bible. An example of a Bible picture that I like to use is Abraham preparing to sacrifice his only son, the child of promise, in the “land of Moriah.” (Genesis 22) This is a picture of God sacrificing His “only begotten son” in the land of Moriah, two-thousand years later. The land of Moriah is where the city of David, and Jerusalem, are located.
I was recently reminded of a picture of the Pre-Tribulation rapture (harpazo) in the Book of Ruth. In this book, Boaz is the redeemer, a type of the Lord Jesus. Ruth, the Gentile bride, is a type of the Church. The culminating event of the Book of Ruth is at midnight on the threshing floor. By the way, in Matthew chapter 25, the groom came for the bride at midnight. The threshing floor is a type of the Tribulation. In fact, the tool used to thresh was a sled with spikes, that was drawn by a donkey. The tool is called a tribulum.
So, where was the Bride when the threshing (the Tribulation) was going on? The Bride was with the Redeemer! The Church will be with the Lord Jesus!
In the Revelation 4:1, the Apostle John saw a door open in Heaven and heard a voice like a trumpet say, “Come up here!” (See First Thessalonians 4:16) This is a picture of the Church being called up to Heaven before the events of the Tribulation described after chapter 4.
A Scripture, not a picture, I have pointed out before is from Isaiah. Remember, Hebrew has 4,000 words compared to the 100,000 words in our English vocabulary. The meaning of Hebrew words can vary based upon context.
“The righteous perisheth (abad Strong’s H6 – perish, vanish), and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away (awsaf Strong’s H622 – gathered, removed), none considering that the righteous is taken away (gathered, removed) from the evil to come.” – Isaiah 57:1 (my emphasis)Another Scriptural statement is also from Isaiah. The context of this passage is global punishment.
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation(za’am Strong’s H2195 – anger) be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” – Isaiah 26:20-21 (my emphasis)The Apostle Peter described how the Lord saved Noah and his family from the Flood, “bringing in the Flood upon the world of the ungodly.” He then told how the Lord delivered Lot from the just destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Peter concluded with this statement:
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations (peirasmos Strong’s G3986 – trial), and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” – Second Peter 2:9In 66 A.D. the Roman consul Cestius marched against Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. Cestius was not a military man and made several tactical mistakes. Despairing success, he withdrew from Jerusalem. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus said, “he (Cestius) retired from the city, without any reason in the world.” This gave Christians in Jerusalem the opportunity to heed the words of Jesus and escape. And they did.
The Christian historian Eusebius wrote, “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella.” Eusebius said that every Christian in Jerusalem escaped the destruction.
Our mighty Heavenly Father has a history of taking care of His own! The precedent, as well as the Scripture, is there.
Perhaps the most important statement comes directly from the mouth of the Master, Jesus.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (peirasmos Strong’s G3986 – trial), which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” – Revelation 3:10 (my emphasis)Most Bible scholars agree that the seven letters to the seven churches in the Revelation chapters 2 and 3 represent various periods of the Church Age, in which we now live. Some think that the last two churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea, represent the faithful church and the apostate church in the last days. Jesus had nothing negative to say about the church at Philadelphia. Conversely, Jesus said He was standing at the door of the Laodicean church, knocking and asking to be allowed inside. What a sad picture!
The Lord Jesus promised the church at Philadelphia (the faithful end-time church?) that He would spare them from the hour of trial that would come on all those who dwell on earth. Examined along with the passages noted above, it would appear that this church will be spared because it will not on earth at the time of the Tribulation.
In my opinion, the Church will not be dwelling on earth, to God be the Glory. Praise the Lord for the Hope He gives us, and for His wonderful Grace!